Are You a Better Parent if You’re Medicated?

Are You a Better Parent if You’re Medicated?
Penn State researchers say YES!

Read More: http://news.psu.edu/story/321808/2014/07/30/research/parenting-skills-improve-adhd-parents-medication

Penn State News reports on a small study done at Penn State and funded by Shire Inc., the manufacturer of lisdexamfetamine, (aka Vyvanse) where ADHD parents received medication to help them cope with their children.

One of the lead researchers, Dr. James Waxmonsky noted, “Parents with ADHD are at increased risk to engage in problematic parenting techniques, including inconsistent disciplinary practices, making ineffectual commands and diminished use of praise. Having a parent with ADHD also decreases the chances that children with ADHD will respond to typically effective medication or counseling treatment.”

So, the solution? Medicate the parents! The researchers selected 20 parents who had children age 5 to 12. Both parents had a diagnosis presenting ADHD. The researchers then gave the parents ‘optimal’ doses of lisdexamfetamine (Vyvanse).

The parents were then brought to the clinic for observation on two tasks: 1] The child performs homework with parental assistance, and 2] The child plays while the parent performs paperwork.

The parent was administered either a placebo or Vyvanse for the first observation. This was then reversed for the second observation period. Neither the researchers nor participants knew when the active medication was received.

According to Penn State News, “The results of the first phase showed no medication effect was seen during the homework component. During the non-academic component, parents were less likely to make negative statements toward their children on lisdexamfetamine than on placebo.

Children showed less inappropriate behavior during the homework task when their parent was prescribed lisdexamfetamine versus placebo.

Then, in the second phase, parents had a 50 percent chance of staying on active medication or a 50 percent chance of being switched to placebo for the remainder of the study. They completed the same parent-child interaction tasks as in the first phase.”

“In the laboratory setting, lisdexamfetamine treatment of parental ADHD was associated with significant reductions in children’s negative behaviors and improvements in parenting behaviors found to be adversely impacted by ADHD,” Waxmonsky said.

Can you think of a better way to expand this market?

The ADHD link to social dynamics

If I told you that women who received only basic education were 130 % more likely to have a child on ADHD medication than women with university degrees, you’d see a link, wouldn’t you? 

Well, that’s what a  study published this month in Acta Paediatrica found.  That implies that nearly half of the serious cases of ADHD  in children are closely tied to social factors. The study reveals that factors like single parenting and poor maternal education were directly tied to ADHD medication use.

While we know that a genetic propensity likely exists, the human brain develops based on a complex interplay between nature and nurture; between genetic endowment (nature) and environment/social factors (nurture). Epigenetic theory tries to explain this relationship.

Curiously, few large-scale studies have tried to determine the impact of social and family influences on ADHD. Researchers at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden assessed data on 1.16 million school children and examined the health histories of nearly 8,000 Swedish-born kids, aged six to 19, who had taken ADHD medication.

"We tracked their record through other registers … to determine a number of other factors," said lead author Anders Hjern.

Here’s what the researchers found:

  • Living in a single parent family increased the chances of being on ADHD medication by more than 50 percent.
  • A family on welfare upped the odds of medication use by 135%.
  • Boys were three times more likely to be on medication than girls.
  • Social dynamics affected both sexes equally.

"Almost half of the cases could be explained by the socioeconomic factors included in our analysis, clearly demonstrating that these are potent predictors of ADHD-medication in Swedish school children," Hjern said.

It’s clear that this study found a link between socioeconomic factors and ADHD medication use/diagnosis. Other US studies have found that minority children and children of low socioeconomic status were more likely to receive ADHD medication.

Factors like low income and diminished quality time are more common in single-parent families. These typically lead to stressors like family conflict and a lack of social support, Hjern said.

While more research must be done, one has to ask, is medication the answer to social stressors like lack of time and money? Sounds too silly to ask, but it seems that our answer, ridiculously, is a resounding, YES!

We are the masters of our lives. We can make significant personal changes, but we must have the tools to do so. That’s why I began Play Attention (support.playattention.net) years ago.

Dopamine & ADHD

thinkingm4  The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA. 2009;302(10):1084-1091) recently published work by Dr. Nora D. Volkow, MD, et al regarding evaluation of the biological bases that may reveal a reward/motivational deficit present in the brains of persons with ADHD.

Volkow and her colleagues theorized that ADHD may be connected to reward-motivation deficits. Volkow investigated whether lack of motivation and its relationship to reward could be traced to depression of dopamine in various areas of the brain.

To determine whether dopamine was depressed in ADHD persons, the researchers used positron emission tomography (PET scans) to measure dopamine levels in 53 nonmedicated ADHD adults and 44 healthy non ADHD adults between 2001-2009.

Since the biological mechanisms of ADHD are unknown, studies of this type have become the holy grails of research. While Volkow’s credentials are quite impressive (NIH, NIDA, etc.) this research is not new or conclusive. The theory that dopamine dysfunction/depression may be involved with ADHD symptoms has been researched for many years.

Furthermore, Volkow’s  small sample size consisted only of adults and therefore should not be extrapolated to include the child population. The small sample size alone should prevent it from being generalized to the entire adult ADHD population. One has a problem of antecedence here; is ADHD caused by dopamine depression in the brain? Or is the dopamine depression the result of ADHD that was acquired by other biological means? This research cannot answer that question.

What does the research tell us? It tells us that for some adults, dopamine may play a role in ADHD. For those adults, taking a stimulant medication may increase dopaminergic activity thus increasing reward/motivation responses and thus increasing attention to task. That might be a stretch.

On the downside, persons with depressed dopamine levels would probably greatly enjoy using stimulants. Study participants reported this. This may contribute to the frequent incidences of substance abuse among ADHD persons.

The authors write,"Despite decades of research, the specific neurobiological mechanisms underlying this disorder still remain unclear. Genetic, clinical and imaging studies point to a disruption of the brain dopamine system, which is corroborated by the clinical effectiveness of stimulant drugs (methylphenidate hydrochloride and amphetamine), which increase extracellular dopamine in the brain."

Unfortunately, the study leaves us with more questions than answers. Does it tell us what happens long term? Does it tell us of side effects?  Does it tell us if this actually applies to children? Can we conclusively determine a causal relationship between reward/motivation and ADHD? Does it solve the problem of antecedence? Do we know anything conclusively about all ADHD adults. No. There’s still a long road ahead.

ADHD is Big Business

Generics don’t produce income for the pharma giants. Giant pharma’s manipulation of pricing affects users – perhaps more now that the economy is a mess. It also affects health and health related decisions. Ethically, this is wrong.

Shire hikes Adderall price as rumors fly

Amid new speculation that Pfizer might snag Shire in a buyout deal, the specialty pharma is following through on its strategy to switch patients to its newest ADHD med Vyvanse as blockbuster Adderall XR nears the end of its patent. Shire is hiking the price of Adderall by 20 percent, a boost that confounded analysts expecting a smaller increase.

The idea, of course, is that by making Adderall more expensive, Shire will shine the spotlight on Vyvanse, whose price is rising by a mere 7 percent. Cost-conscious patients will then switch to the cheaper brand, or so the theory goes. Then, firmly entrenched as Vyvanse users, the patients won’t move to generic Adderall when it hits the market.

Analysts apparently expect the switching to stick; Citigroup upgraded Shire stock on the prospect. But with insurers increasingly vigilant about drug prices, generic Adderall might woo away more Vyvanse users than Shire wants to lose. We’ll have to wait and see how that plays out.

In the meantime, though, investors are bidding up Shire stock on fresh rumors that Pfizer is kicking tires there. The U.K. company surfaces as a rumored Pfizer target from time to time, however, so it’s tough to know whether Pfizer is actually looking, or whether the habitual talk simply got stirred up when Pfizer chief Jeff Kindler made his “open to big deals” statement earlier this week.

Aderall & Vyvanse: Shire Pharmaceutical May Be The ADHD Top Earner By 2017

Decision Resources Pharmacor report reveals that the UK’s Shire may be the ADHD top earner by 2017.

Shire currently markets ADHD stimulant medication, Adderall. Adderall’s instant release formula is now available as a generic drug. The report states that Shire´s ADHD drugs will be dominate this market by 2017. The report attributes this, at least in part, to Shire’s launch of Vyvanse´s, a new ADHD drug which has been approved for both children and adults. Vyvanse may lower abuse potential compared with other psycho-stimulants on the market. The Pharmacor report predicts that Vyvanse will generate almost $ 1.2 billion dollars in sales in 2017.

Shire’s ability to take the lead, according to the report, will be because of Shire’s Vyvanse and its patch sold as Daytrana. Additionally, Shire is pursuing a non-stimulant medication called Intuniv that will compete with Lily’s Strattera and secure dominance in the burgeoning international ADHD market projected to be worth $4 billion.

To facilitate continued sales increases and increased market share, all major pharmaceutical companies are marketing heavily in countries that traditionally have not accepted ADHD as a neurobiological disorder or treated it with medication.